Within a Catholic scholastic environment, seminarian and religious visits can be extremely important in sparking vocations within students.
Among the first steps in organizing such a visit is determining what organization to contact. Choosing between seminarians from an area diocesan seminary or religious from an area religious order community—or both—is a starting point, as is finding the proper contact person.
Determining the venue and audience are also critical steps in organizing visits. There are many ways of going about this: options include all-school assemblies, grouping a few classes or single-classroom presentations/discussions.
Holding such visits during special events within the academic year—such as Vocation Day events—can be an ideal approach.
For many students, the visits of seminarians to schools are the students' first in-person meeting with a seminarian. These visits—and those from members of religious orders—can be extremely important in sparking vocations.
Certainly, the first step in organizing such visits is to decide what organization to call. There are seminaries and religious orders that have sections of their websites dedicated to the facilitation of such visits (i.e., they list the contact information of one of the institution's leaders, etc.)—and some dioceses do this on their website such as the Diocese of Green Bay.
There are several ways in which to have the visitors make their presentations to students and answer their questions. To maximize the time of both visitors and students, it's a good idea to at least consider holding an all-school assembly or large group presentations. In this way, the visiting seminarians/religious can present to a large number of students, plus have a general question-and-answer session with the assembled students afterward. If presentation to a more specific group is what's required, then the visitors could be invited to a single classroom for a more informal talk with the designated group of students (for example, a theology class at a high school). These are but two ideas; there are many other ways to go about this.
Planning the visit around special days within a school year can be an ideal approach. For example, in 2016, a Catholic grade school in suburban Atlanta held a Vocations Day for fifth-grade students from throughout the Archdiocese of Atlanta, and, during that day, area seminarians were on hand to speak to the students. One of the schools whose students participated went on to 'spiritually adopt' the seminarians, sending them items such as letters and cards.
Template for an outreach email to be sent to your contact at the seminary/religious order community you wish to invite to your school or parish [simply cut and paste into an email and modify as appropriate]:
Dear [NAME OF CONTACT]:
I'm [YOUR NAME] from [PARISH/SCHOOL NAME], and I'm writing you today to request a visit from a group of your organization's [SEMINARIANS/PRIESTS/NUNS/SISTERS/BROTHERS].
We at [PARISH/SCHOOL NAME] are very interested in fostering vocations to the priesthood and religious life. We want our students to know more about your group's call from God, daily lives, plans for the future, etc. We feel our students would benefit from your visit!
Ideally, we'd love to host your group on [DATE/TIME] here at [PARISH/SCHOOL NAME]. If your group would be prepared to [BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE 'RUNDOWN' FOR THE GROUP'S VISIT…E.G., “PRESENT AT AN ALL-SCHOOL ASSEMBLY” OR “COME TO OUR 6TH-GRADE CLASSROOM FOR AN INFORMAL TALK TO OUR STUDENTS” OR SOMETHING SIMILAR], that would be ideal.
Could you please email or call me at [PHONE NUMBER] at your earliest convenience to further discuss this request? Your group's visit will make a big difference in our efforts to spark vocations at [PARISH/SCHOOL NAME].
Page from website of Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic School (Atlanta, GA) with coverage of seminarians' visit with area 5th graders.
Article from The Catholic Connection (LA) with coverage of visits of priest, sisters, and seminarians to area Catholic schools.
Article from St. Joseph Catholic School (PA) website that describes a visit from local seminarians.
Article from The Record (KY) describing seminarians committed to visiting all 110 parishes in Diocese of Louisville during the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Page from the Diocese of Green Bay (WI) which, among other things, describes how people interested in having priests visit their school can reach out and make the request:
SPARK: Built by Serrans for Vocation Directors.
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